Kar-Marrontal

Whether one knows it or not, anyone who has strayed down into the Underdark, or travelled along its winding passages is likely to have been observed by agents of the Spider Court, as Kar-Morrental is known.     One of the largest of the Drow poleis, Kar-Morrental, under the rule of its Matriarch, Jezebel has eyes everywhere, observing planning and scheming how to bring the city into a position of power over all of the other poleis in the Underdark.

Structure

Like almost all of the Drow Poleis, Kar-Marrontal is run as an autocracy, headed by a Matriarch. The current ruler of Kar-Marrontal, Matriarch Jezebel is thought to be the longest ruling Drow Matriarch in history, with a reign that has lasted over 500 years. Being in power for so long may well have led many others to delegate huge swathes of their responsibilities, but Matriarch Jezebel maintains an iron grip on anything of importance within the polis, and she must be informed of any governmental decision, no matter how trivial. Many a careless or forgetful administrator has lost their lives by forgetting to inform the Matriarch of their decisions, no matter how trivial they may be.   Unlike other Drow Matriarchs, who often have harems of consorts and armies of confidents to whom they trust to undertake things on their behalf, there are only three people that Jezebel trusts to act in her name – her current consort of the last one hundred and fifty years, Hazmar Palastor, the head of her armed forces Mizan Trovell and the head of her spy network and her daughter Lysistrata Marron.

Public Agenda

Whilst the publicly declared agenda for most Drow Poleis is the furtherment of their own fortunes, Kar-Marrontal is unusual in that, ever since Matriarch Jezebel came to power, the agenda of the polis has been to unite the disparate cities of the Drow into a single network, presided over by herself, that would turn them into a global power capable of dominating the politics of the Underdark and making them highly influential in the surface world. Naturally this public agenda has not gone down well with many of the other Drow poleis, see below.

Demography and Population

The vast majority of Kar-Marrontal’s population, over 95% are Drow, with the remaining 5% or so being made up of other Underdark races.   Kar-Morrental has a wealth spread amongst its populous which is typical of most large urban areas, with members of the most influential houses being the wealthiest and so on. In the case of Kar-Marrontal, the most highly regarded Drow houses have their own extensive networks, with many lesser households having sworn loyalty to them, in exchange for protection and benefits, provided that they provide raw materials and labour to the overarching house.   One thing to note is that the slave population of the city is not recorded within the official statistics of the polis. If they were, it would like as not bring the percentage of non-Drow residents up by as much as 40%, however, the status of slaves within Kar-Morrental means that they are no longer regarded as being living breathing, sentient beings, but as property, a common mind set within the Drow city-states.

Territories

Like almost all large settlements within the Underdark, the size of territory that Kar-Marrontal directly controls is deceptively small compared to the size of its influence within the region. Kar-Marrontal maintains tight control over the peninsula on which the city itself is located and not much more.

Military

Kar-Marrontal is renowned for having a small, but highly trained, disciplined and equipped military force, which though deadly, is primarily geared towards the protection of the polis itself and the handful of outposts it maintains around the Sapphire Lakes. When Kar-Marrontal goes to war, it will generally take only a small detachment of its own troops, with the rest of its army made up of forces drawn from its network of client-poleis.     What Kar-Marrontal lacks in terms of the size of its armed force, it more than makes up for with the size of its spy network. The polis is not called the Spider Court for nothing and it is thought that Kar-Marrontal maintains a network of thousands of spies, scattered across the levels of the Underdark and even above in the surface world.        These spies are constantly feeding information back to Matriarch Jezebel, and her spy master, Lysistrata Marron giving the polis the edge in almost any situation. The sheer scale of Kar-Morrental's spy force means that it can perform strikes of surgical precision at their enemies' weakest points, robbing their foes of the advantage of numbers and crippling them with a single blow.

Foreign Relations

The ambitions of Kar-Marrontal under Matriarch Jezebel's rule mean that the polis is a well known player on the Underdark's political stage. The city maintains a network of client-poleis, Drow cities which have been drawn into an alliance where they are the subordinate party, where they provide materials and armed forces to Kar-Morrental in exchange for protection and favourable treatment.    However, there are a large number of poleis that vehemently resist the influence of the Spider Court, most notable amongst them Kar-Dun. As of yet, these opposing poleis have not formed themselves together into a rival alliance to directly oppose Kar-Marrontal, but one of Matriarch Jezebel's greatest fears is that something will emerge or change that will prompt this to happen. In real world terms, this means that after nearly one hundred years of aggressive diplomacy and military action, Kar-Morrental has slowed its expansion, lest it turn into the catalyst that unites the independent Drow poleis against it.    More widely, Kar-Morrental is regarded as a powerful ally to those who can convince them to agree such terms, but one that must always be watched. There is a long list of cities and powers in the Underdark that once counted Kar-Marrontal as an ally, only to be stabbed in the back by them when Matriarch Jezebel saw a more favourable position open up elsewhere.

Agriculture & Industry

Kar-Marrontal's location means that it has, unlike many other places within the Underdark managed to get itself into a position of relative self-sufficiency. The polis has easy access to ample supplies of fish and shellfish, which its large fishing fleets extract from the waters of the Sapphire Lakes, and it has its own network of sealed tunnels running beneath the city that are used for the production of agricultural staples of the Underdark.       However, the polis' demand for luxury goods means that despite it producing so much of its own food, it will always be a big importer of goods.

Trade & Transport

Kar-Marrontal engages heavily in trading activities and the polis controls several trade routes with the Middle and Deep Underdark. It’s position within the Upper Underdark gives it easy access to Frax, the largest trading city in the entirety of the Underdark.
Founding Date
740BIF
Type
Geopolitical, City-state
Alternative Names
The Spider Court / The Citadel of Secrets
Demonym
Marronites
Government System
Monarchy, Absolute
Economic System
Mixed economy
Currency
As one of the main players in the politics and economics of the Underdark, Kar-Marrontal has readily embraced the use of Fraxian Standard coinage, well beyond the use of alternative forms of currency. However, like many Drow poleis it is still possible to use slaves as a form of currency, though this is far less common than in other Drow cities, such as Kar-Dun where it is more prevalent that the use of coinage.
Location
Related Ranks & Titles


Cover image: by Chris Pyrah

Comments

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11 Nov, 2021 04:06

I like the irony of Jezebel trying to unify the Drow and also being the person the Drow are most likely to unite against.